Avoid the Summer, and other Sales Slumps
by John Chapin
No matter the industry or organization, they all seem to have a historically slow time of year, the summer and holidays are usually the biggest. In addition, changes in the economy, the market or industry, pandemics, and supply-chain issues can also lead to slow sales. That said, there are some things you can do about it. You don’t have to simply accept your fate as most companies and salespeople do. Yes, this is going to require you to have an open mind for a few minutes while you read this article. All I’m asking for you to do is consider what I have to say. Worst-case scenario: nothing changes, best-case scenario: you sell more and make more money. Either way, there is no downside to considering what I have to say, only upside.
Some things to consider doing during ‘down’ times
Be a contrarian. The average salesperson cuts calls and activity by 37% when there’s a hiccup in the economy or market. They also cut activity in ‘perceived slow times’: summer months, around the holidays, Friday afternoons, Monday mornings, and other times when they believe their business is seasonally or otherwise slow. Early on in the pandemic, salespeople cut activity by an average of 64%! These are great times to make more calls and get competitive business. These are also times when it’s typically easier to get to decision-makers. Either way, you will set yourself apart and get paid for doubling efforts when others are cutting back.
If you have supply chain issues, this is a great reason for people to order sooner and during slow times. It’s also an opportunity for them to buy more than typical to make sure they have enough down the road just in case the supply chain issues continue.
When sales are slow, use customer sales incentives that you usually use at the end of the year or the end of the quarter. Have a sale. Offer special payment terms. Throw in extra items for free. Do you have any price increases coming up that allow you to lock people into the current price now? Are you trying to clear out the old models before the new ones come in? All these can be used as incentives for people to buy now.
Change your summer vacation schedule. Instead of two weeks straight, unless you work for a bank, take one week now and one week at another time. The longer you are away from selling, the more bad habits take over and the more your sales skills erode. On this note, that’s why it’s a good idea to prospect every day, or as close as possible. If you only prospect Tuesday through Thursday, it’s going to take you several calls to get back into rhythm after four days off.
If you aren’t already, track your activity. Track initial calls, follow-up calls, contacts, what happened on those calls, proposals, closed sales, etc. You need to track everything you want to improve to see where you’re effective and ineffective. Paying attention to these items usually leads to you doing more of them and getting better at them.
Work harder, work smarter and work longer hours. I didn’t lead with this because many people cringe when I mention hard work. The average person will spend years looking for shortcuts rather than taking the tried-and-true path. If you make more calls, you’ll make more sales. Simple. Also, if you look for better and more efficient ways to do things, you’ll find them and save time, effort, and energy and be able to put that into better and more prospecting.
If you’re a sales leader, have incentives or contests for your salespeople. My best sales quarter ever occurred one year in the months of June, July, and August, even though that was typically our ‘slow time’ because there was a contest for a lavish trip to Vegas for the top ten sales reps in the country during that time frame. Regarding summer, your buyers don’t go on vacation all summer, usually, it’s just a couple of weeks; there’s still plenty of time to get to people. And overall, summer tends to find people with better moods which leads to more business. Same with the holidays and Friday afternoons.
Challenge yourself to sell more during the summer, holidays, and at other slow times. Compete with other salespeople. Treat it like a game. Set higher standards for yourself regarding initial calls and follow-up calls and find someone to hold you accountable to those new standards.
Look for other companies in your industry, and in other industries, that always seem to perform well in summer months and at other typical down times. Look for salespeople like this too. In both cases, find out what they do differently from everyone else.
Here are a few other ideas for slow times:
- Brainstorm as a sales team for ways to sell more and sell more efficiently and effectively.
- Use slow times to get better at selling. Whether individually or as a group, take time to take sales courses, read books, roleplay more, and, in general, learn more about sales and selling.
- Use slow times to upgrade your technology and learn how to use it more effectively.
Finally, challenge your own beliefs. Remember, whether you believe you can or, you believe you can’t, you’re probably right. Challenge the old assumptions and beliefs about slow sales times. Out of all the people and companies in your industry, there is someone who is selling more at these times. They aren’t special. If they can sell more, you can too.
John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to www.completeselling.com John has over 34 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
#1 Sales Rep w 34+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages).